By MARK LONG, AP Sports Writer
JACKSONVILLE, Fla. (AP) — The Jacksonville Jaguars aren’t giving up on disgruntled defender Jalen Ramsey.
The Jags would prefer to keep their star cornerback after several days of trade talks with other NFL teams, according to a person close to the situation. The person spoke to The Associated Press on the condition of anonymity Friday because details of trade talks have not been publicly discussed. The decision came amid a much-needed, 20-7 victory over Tennessee.
Ramsey hugged several fellow defensive backs after the win, appearing to say goodbye in what many believed would be his final game with Jacksonville (1-2). Behind the scenes, though, teammates, coaches and members of the front office were working to try to repair Ramsey’s fractured relationship with the franchise, specifically with top executive Tom Coughlin.
Jaguars owner Shad Khan had several meetings at the facility earlier in the week in hopes of solving issues. That might include giving Ramsey the long-term contract extension he wants, the person said.
Jacksonville told Ramsey during the offseason that it had no plans to pay him with two years remaining on his rookie deal.
Los Angeles Rams quarterback Jared Goff, Philadelphia quarterback Carson Wentz and Dallas running back Ezekiel Elliott — three of the four players selected ahead of Ramsey in the 2016 NFL draft — already have signed extensions.
Although Ramsey causes as many headaches for his own team as he does opponents, there’s no question the Jags would have a difficult time replacing him — even if they receive two first-round picks in a trade.
“My focus is so high on one thing that I really try to avoid all things that are going on around me,” said coach Doug Marrone, whose heated exchange with Ramsey in Houston served as the catalyst for the player’s trade request. “I’ve just been focused on really helping the players, really helping this team, win football games. All the other stuff — you guys know me better than anyone — my social skills aren’t very good.”
Minshew Mania is trending in Jacksonville.
Rookie Gardner Minshew threw two touchdown passes against Tennessee and would have had a third if not for a drop in the end zone. He’s already beloved after three games, with some fans chanting his name every time he steps on the field and others adorning fake mustaches and bandanas to mimic his signature style.
“Nothing rattles this kid,” Marrone said. “He’s really good at communication and I think he’s really good at preparing himself and making sure there are no surprises out there for him. That’s just a guy that has a maniacal work ethic.”
WHAT NEEDS HELP
Jacksonville’s ground game has been mostly dismal.
Leonard Fournette carried 11 times for minus-8 yards before breaking a 69-yarder late Thursday. Marrone said the offensive line is getting little push to open holes, but doing fine in pass protection.
“We’re not doing a good enough job up front,” Marrone said. I have no issues with how Leonard is working and trying. I think he might be trying too much because of the frustration. He has the ability of being a great player, but we have to do a much better job all around. … We’ve got to get this thing going.”
Jacksonville’s defense held division foes Houston and Tennessee to a combined 20 points while recording 13 sacks. Calais Campbell had three of the unit’s nine sacks against the Texans, with Josh Allen, Dawuane Smoot and Taven Bryan also chipping in.
“When you look at successful defensive lines, it’s about waves and how you can bring them in waves and keep them fresh and keep them going,” Marrone said.
Dede Westbrook had three drops Thursday, including one in the end zone with no defenders on him. Westbrook was widely expected to be the team’s No. 1 target, but DJ Chark and Chris Conley have been more consistent options.
Linebacker Myles Jack was placed in the NFL’s concussion protocol. Campbell left the game twice and is nursing injuries to both legs — his right foot and left ankle.
110.6 — Minshew’s passer rating, the highest for any rookie after three games in the Super Bowl era.
Find ways to renew Ramsey’s faith in the front office.